The Essence of a Superhero, and the Genuine Thing

In the previous post, I made reference five times to the need to define a superhero, and I resolved to return to that matter in the next post.  I intended to write a companion to “The Essence of a Hero, and a Counterfeit.”  It would be longer, I suspected, but it would be similarly structured with an example and a definition.  I would invert its structure: instead of discussing an example at length and closing with a concise definition, I would develop a definition at length and close with a concise example.

The companion essay became more involved for three reasons.

First, I found more contrasts than I expected.  I intended to use a few contrasts to sharpen the definition, but I found many and they were all about equally useful.

Second, I had to think through a lot more than I expected.

Third, it is easier to describe a counterfeit than the genuine thing.  Relatively few people know Siegfried, but I assumed that most readers could follow me when I argued that he is a counterfeit hero.  I did not need the reader to have a sharply defined sense of what a genuine hero is.  I ended with a definition that was meant to whet the reader’s appetite for more.

But almost everyone knows Superman, and many people may have intractable opinions about superheroes.  Readers would not object to me naming him a genuine superhero, surely, but I go further.  Above all other heroes, I name Superman as the genuine thing.  I took more time with my argument because I suspected that some readers might not be able to follow.

The following is an outline for “The Essence of a Superhero, and the Genuine Thing.”  Readers can expect more or less daily posts, with slight variations, until all of the sections in this outline have appeared.

The Essence of a Superhero, and the Genuine Thing:

“Super Heroes”

“Ordinary Heroes”

Sensationalism is Degenerate Singing

Secret Identity, Superpower, Costume, Name

Counterexamples: Superheroes

Examples: “Ordinary” Heroes

Superheroic Action: Moral, Personal

Not Immoral, Not Unintended

Diverging from Psychoanalysis: Unending Vacillation Between Order and Disorder

Superheroic Action: Unbounded

My Definition of a Hero Explained

The Essence of a Superhero: Unbounded

The Genuine Thing, Superman

The American Way

Equality

Diverging from Deconstruction: Vigilante, Enforcer, Oppressor, Stranger

Superheroic Action: Iconic

Heroes and “the god”

Icons, Seen and Read

Superheroes and “the god”

Escape from the Stigma of Escapism

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